Michael Jordan could barely keep it together during his speech at the Celebration of Kobe and Gianna Bryant Memorial on Monday, but the NBA Hall of Famer found a way to bring some light to the situation by joking about the famous Crying Jordan meme. And now fans want to cancel the meme altogether.
At the memorial, many of the people who knew Kobe best were in attendance to speak about his memory and legacy, including many of his colleagues from the NBA. That includes Magic Johnson, Rick Fox, Shaquille O'Neal, and, of course, Michael Jordan himself.
Wearing the pain he was feeling on his sleeve, Jordan was visibly upset before he'd even approached the podium. With a face soaked by tears, Jordan struggles as he remembers both Kobe's skills on the court and their brotherly relationship. Fighting back tears, Jordan also references the many conversations they had, ranging from business to family and everything in between. Nearly breaking down, Jordan then recognizes the way he must look by suggesting his crying face will be made into a meme again. From the speech:
"Now, he's got me... I got to look at another crying meme for the next...
At this point, Jordan trails off to regain his composure, but it's clear to everyone in attendance what the former Chicago Bull is referring to. The remark elicited laughter and applause from the crowd, with even Vanessa shown smiling for the briefest of moments. It was a rare moment of levity at an event surrounded by sadness, and a quick dose of humor was probably what a lot of those people needed at that time. After a few moments, Jordan went on to finish his thought, suggesting this might be the birth of an all-new Crying Jordan meme.
"I told my wife I wasn't going to do this because I didn't want to see that for the next three or four years. This is what Kobe Bryant does to me."
The origins of the Crying Jordan meme date back to 2009 when the NBA legend was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. One particular photograph from the event, featuring Jordan with bloodshot eyes and tears streaming down his face, would later catch on as an internet sensation, with people all across the internet photoshopping Jordan's crying face into all kinds of bizarre situations. As a meme, the photo has also often been used by people on social media to jokingly express great sadness, such as when their favorite sports teams lose or when it's announced a good television show has been cancelled.
Following his comments about the Crying Jordan meme, the room grew somber again as Jordan recalled more of his memories of Bryant. Speaking in detail about their relationship, Jordan goes so far as to say he felt like a big brother to Kobe, always trying to help him whenever he could. "Please, rest in peace, little brother," Jordan says to Kobe as he bids farewell in the closing moments of his speech. You can watch Jordan's complete speech at the Kobe Bryant Memorial below, courtesy of Fox Sports on YouTube.